Five years after his death, friends, family and community members last night flocked to the north side of Bernal Hill Park for a gathering in remembrance of Alex Nieto. More than 100 people hiked their way up Bernal Hill, stopping at the site where Nieto was gunned down after an encounter with the San Francisco Police Department. The place was marked by a mound of rocks adorned with flowers and posters.
With Nieto’s parents in tow, the group hugged it out, ate pizza and marched sunward toward a bench where community groups are planning a memorial installation.
The event began at 6 p.m. and concluded shortly after sundown.
Nieto died at the lower end of the north side of Bernal Hill in March 2014. A lawsuit followed. Organizers also successfully petitioned city supervisors to allow an installation at the park.
Benjamin Bac Sierra, one of the organizers at the event, said the final meeting for the installation is scheduled for April 4 with the Parks and Recreation Department Operations Committee. If allowed, the installation could be built and in place by September.
Joseph Vaez, center, said he and Alex Nieto were childhood friends from the same neighborhood. “I’m still here,” Vaez said.
One of Nieto’s friends leaves flowers at the altar at Bernal Heights Park. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Aztec dancers performed ceremonies and burned sage. Lisa-Gray Garcia, in red and black, performs with Aztec dancers at the memorial event. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Anita Pascasio, right, burns sage as the crowd moves uphill. Her daughter Liliana Aviles hangs tight as temperatures dropped. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Drummers from Loco Bloco led the way, along with the Aztec dancers, as the crowd moved uphill. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Crowds at a vista where the memorial could be installed. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Antonio Theodore, who witnessed the shooting, sings a song he wrote about the experience to the crowd at Bernal Heights Park. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Ky Qullin holds their fist up in the air as Antonio Theodore sung a song a song he wrote after witnessing Nieto’s death. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen speaks to the crowd. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Refugio and Elvira Nieto, Alex’s parents, embrace before speaking to the crowd. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
As the crowd dissipates and the sun drops, friends and family hold one last moment and drink in memory of Alex Nieto. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.
Luis Gutierrez, owner of 24th Street’s La Reyna Bakery. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.